By Arab News
By Sean Cronin
Bahrain has discovered the country’s biggest oilfield in decades, located off the west coast of the country.
The light shale oil and gas resource represents the largest discovery in the country since 1932, the BNA state news agency reported on Sunday. Further details on the find are expected to emerge on Wednesday at a press conference in Manama.
It could have a major impact on the country’s financial position which has come under scrutiny by ratings agencies in recent months.
Bahrain relies on the Abu Safa oilfield, which it shares with Saudi Arabia, for most of its oil.
“The new resource is forecast to contain highly significant quantities of tight oil and deep gas, understood to dwarf Bahrain’s current reserves,” said Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, who chairs Bahrain’s Higher Committee for Natural Resources and Economic Security.
“Following the initial discovery of the resource, detailed analysis of the find’s content, size and extraction viability has been undertaken.”
Bahrain is working with petroleum industry consultants, DeGolyer and MacNaughton (Demac) to assess the finds.
“Today we announce that initial analysis demonstrates the find is at substantial levels, capable of supporting the long-term extraction of tight oil and deep gas,” the statement said.
Bahrain’s National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA) is conducting modeling studies aimed at quantifying the size and value of the find.
A DeGolyer and MacNaughton spokesperson said: “Demac evaluated the reservoir and test data, evaluated volumetric and recovery potential, and provided reports documenting both prospective and contingent resources.
“This is a project which breaks new ground for the industry.”
The discovery, which is expected to support extensive, long-term downstream investment, follows an uptick in oil and gas exploration in the Kingdom.
Last year the government accelerated exploration of sites to the west of Bahrain, which resulted in the discovery of the resource and oil being struck in the fourth quarter of 2017, it said.
Bahrain’s Ministry of Oil is due to reveal more details on the discovery this week, including initial findings of size and extraction viability.
Bahrain has been among the most exposed of the Gulf states to a sustained decline in global oil prices since mid-2014.
Its breakeven oil price, which is the oil price it needs in order to balance its budget, is higher than other Gulf crude exporters.
In November, Fitch Ratings revised Bahrain’s outlook to ‘negative’ from ‘stable,’ citing the challenges the government faced in tackling the deficit.
Moody’s said in September that Bahrain was among the “most exposed” to the ongoing diplomatic row between Doha and some of its Gulf neighbors.